Valve leaks Half Life 2 Aftermath now Episode 1

Half Life 2 News

Valve has frequently released information to fan sites that indicates that the long awaited Half Life 2: Aftermath would be delayed until Feb/March 2006. Now EA have made an official release regarding the eagerly awaited expansion. The rumors that the new expansion would be named 'Episode 1' have also been confirmed, and it will be first in a series of regular content releases for the Half Life 2 game.

Amongst other things, EA had this to say about Half Life 2: Aftermath...

The player reprises his role of Dr. Gordon Freeman, who must immediately face the repercussions of his actions in City 17 and the Citadel. Freeman reconnects with Alyx Vance and her robot, Dog, as they continue their support of the resistance's battle against the Combine forces. They also give an April 24th release date for the product.

We expect Half Life 2: Aftermath - Episode 1 to be available towards the end of April for download via Steam. Previous information hinted that an earlier release was possible, but Valve are not known for releasing products sooner rather than later. That this latest announcement has pushed the date back again should not be a surprise - it's very unlikely to be released before that date. In fact, it's even possible that it may end up being released later than April if circumstances warrant.

Information that was released to fan sites suggested that Episode 1 was largely complete back in November, but was not up to the high standards that Valve set for their products and was/is being held back for polishing and bug-fixing.

That Valve are both able and prepared to hold product back until it's actually ready makes them something of a rare and special breed amongst game developers, who are usually at the mercy of publisher's marketing plans. It's commonplace for publishers to release unfinished product to hit a pre-planned marketing date because marketing plans are usually made in advance of a completed product being ready. Valve can publish their own product through Steam and already receive endless free publicity for their product, so they are free of the constraints that trouble most developers.

That EA are being so cooperative with an external developer is nothing short of miraculous, but the bargaining power that Valve have, and the strength of the Half Life brand are clearly such that they can still plot their own course without being at the mercy of a powerful publisher. The only thing I suspect we might see is that there is an agreement that prevents Valve allowing the product to be downloaded directly via Steam prior to it hitting retail shelves.